Fire Service cuts will put Worksop lives “at risk”, warn Union

John Buckley, chief fire officer.
John Buckley, chief fire officer.

The safety of Worksop residents will be “put at risk” if plans to cut cover at Worksop and Retford fire station in a bid to save £1m go ahead, the Fire Brigade Union has warned.

Views are currently being sought on a proposal from Notts Fire to introduce a “mixed crewing” scheme which would reduce costs by “mixing” full-time firefighters with on call or ‘retained’ personnel.

But this would leave the stations without firefighter cover at night, potentially putting residents “in danger”.

John Muggleton, FBU brigade secretary for Nottinghamshire, said: “Most property fires happen at night, so these new proposals from Notts Fire are extremely concerning.

“Retained firefighter crew members can ‘book unavailable’ at any time, so there is no guarantee that they would even be able to turn out in sufficient numbers to cope with fires or other incidents.”

“The sole use of retained firefighters to provide fire cover is not sustainable or safe.

“We urge NFRS to rethink even considering these dangerous cost-cutting exercises, and more fundamentally, for central Government to now start investing properly in the fire and rescue service nationally instead of cutting it to the bone.

“That way fire and rescue services like ours won’t be faced with making these dreadful, unsafe decisions.”

John Buckley, chief fire officer at Notts Fire, said mixed crewing was a “tried and tested” method and a “very efficient and cost effective” way of providing a fire and rescue service, but it was still “very important” the public were consulted on the scheme.

“It’s no secret that we’re facing financial pressures as a service and the proposals we are consulting on address these- but they also align operational resources to best meet the demands we face.

“It will basically mean we’re moving away from whole-time firefighters overnight when we are at our quietest and get less incidents, and this service will instead by provided by retained officers. Retained firefighters provide half of our fire cover in the county already.

“I think the impact will be minimal. It’s an absolute priorty of mine to ensure the safety of communities, and communities are safer than they ever have been.

“Over the last decade we have seen a 50 percent reduction in incidents involving fires, it’s my priority to ensure that continues.

The consultation will conclude in December and be presented to the Fire Authority in February 2018.

Residents can have their say by visiting www.notts-fire.gov.uk.